Address by Home Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma at meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union on the occasion of the United Nations Climate Change Conference at Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal
5 Dec 2011
Honorary President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and Speaker of the National Assembly of Namibia, Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab
The Speaker of Parliament, the Honourable Max Sisulu
Due to many competing commitments for the Conference, my colleague Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa has asked me to join you, our esteemed Members of Parliament, in your deliberations today. I am therefore happy to be with you and share some ideas.
I know you have been welcomed to South Africa but I want to add my voice by saying welcome to our beautiful shores. I am certain our people in our diversity would have interacted with you and displayed their legendary friendliness and hospitality. Durban is not only one of our most beautiful coastal cities, but also one of Africa’s busiest ports. It is therefore not surprising that we pay particular attention to and have had events around the oceans on the margins of COP17.
In addition, with the 17th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP17) taking place in Africa, our vulnerability as one of the continents most affected by climate change is further highlighted.
In this regard, South Africa like many other countries, is already feeling the effects of climate change, in the form of droughts, floods, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and generally unpredictable and unusual weather patterns. Scientists tell us that the western half of our country will get drier with prolonged droughts and our eastern half will become wetter with more rain and floods.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The South African government believes that the success of Durban will be measured in terms of the basic principles that must underpin these climate-change negotiations, multilateralism, environmental integrity, fairness, common but differentiated responsibility, respective capabilities, equity and honouring of all international commitments and undertakings made in the climate-change process.
Following COP16 in Mexico, South Africa is of the view that the pledges inscribed in the Cancun Agreements need to be further developed in Durban. It is important therefore to, amongst others, conclude deliberations with an agreement on the second Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Since Africa and the small island developing states will suffer most from the effects of climate change and are already suffering the consequences thereof, adaptation must be an essential element of the outcomes of COP17.
This COP17 should also therefore address seriously the case of the most vulnerable states with the least resources, amongst others, small island developing states (SIDS) which are at risk of disappearing as nations if we continue on the same trajectory. For such states, it is not just about climate change, but about their right to exist as citizens of their countries. As the inhabitants of the small island developing states say, the islands define who they are. However, they also say that climate change is turning the ocean - their friend and resource into a deadly enemy.
Adaption must therefore be part of the critical outcomes of COP17. The current fragmented approach to adaptation must therefore be addressed in a more coherent manner, to ensure an outcome that will lead to the concrete implementation of adaptation outcomes and actions.
I would also like that remind you that Cancún recognised the contribution of developing nations to migitation in accordance with the Convention. It further highlighted that these could be enhanced depending on the provision of finance, technology and capacity-building support provided by developed countries.
It reaffirmed that social and economic development as well as poverty eradication are the first and over-riding priorities of the developing countries and that their share of global emissions will grow to meet their development needs, agreeing that these countries will take nationally appropriate mitigation actions in the context of sustainable development supported and enabled by technology, financing, and capacity-building.
In this regard, I would like to share with you that South Africa recently approved its National Climate Change Response Policy that guides government’s approach to climate-change impacts and the transition to a climate-resilient and low-carbon economy. The policy is premised on the commitment to sustainable development and a better life for all.
South Africa will implement nationally appropriate mitigation actions, which will result in the reduction of emissions by 34% in 2020 and by 42% in 2025. This is of course contingent upon an international regime that supports implementation through financing and technology transfer.
As an example of our commitment to mitigation, the President of the Republic, His Excellency Jacob Zuma yesterday launched a 500 KW solar park which actually supplies electricity to the convention centre where COP17 is taking place. It is also intended to lowering the carbon footprint of the conference while laying the basis for a diverse energy mix in our country.
Durban should accordingly formalise mitigation pledges from individual developed countries or blocs of countries and deepen their scope to come to a net reduction of emissions which would limit the increase in global temperature to a maximum of 2°C, and to continue to look into the goal of a 1.5°C increase as mentioned in Cancun.
It is therefore critical that the Cancun agreements be operationalised including the establishment of the key mechanisms and institutional arrangements agreed to in Cancun. The Green Climate Fund represents a centrepiece for a broader set of outcomes for Durban.
South Africa departs from the premise that climate change action by a single country or a small group of countries cannot adequately deal with the immense challenge posed by the changing weather phenomena to humanity as a whole.
In addition, global action should be premised on transparency within the context of a multilateral rules based system.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We remember that COP17 follows a remarkably detailed outcome in Cancun which built on understandings reached in Copenhagen. However, as we will all agree, the two-track outcome as agreed to in the 2007 Bali Road Map mandate has not yet been definitely concluded. Durban must therefore seek to conclude this matter.
One of the areas in which some progress was made in both Conferences is on finance where US$ 30 billion was pledged in Copenhagen for Fast Start Finance over the three year period ending in 2012 as a means of building confidence in the multilateral process, as well as demonstrate political will.
That we are in the last year of this pledge to fast start finance, it is important to take stock of what the experience has been, and how this experience can strengthen the finance mechanism under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). To date we understand that US$ 28 billion has been pledged, with about US$ 13 billion being either disbursed or allocated by developed countries.
On the other hand, the former Minister of Environment and Forests in India at the end of the first year of the fast start finance noted that - it has not started, it is not fast and we have not seen finance yet.
Yesterday we heard African Ministers of the Environment lamenting that it seems like ODA has disappeared and the support of their meetings and workshops organised by institutes in developed countries is considered fast start finance. It cannot be right that people organise workshops in their countries claiming it to be part of the Fast Start Finance programme.
This dichotomy in the experience of fast start finance demonstrates the need for transparency and multilateral rules based framework for a global response. It further demonstrates that bilateral and mini-lateral approaches to dealing with global problems have their shortcomings.
The experience further makes a case for having a common reporting format on finance to ensure transparency, and the importance of having clear linkages between finance and technology mechanisms with adaptation and mitigation actions under the Convention. As we build the international finance mechanism to deliver the US$ 100 billion, we can learn from the fast start finance experience.
Under the Cancun sets of decisions, the Green Climate Fund was established as an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the Convention, accountable and functioning under the guidance of the Conference of the Parties (COP).The Transitional Committee was mandated to undertake the design work and present its findings to the Durban Conference.
Cancun further agreed on the establishment of the Standing Committee on Finance and the launch of a discussion on long-term sources of finance. We think it is important that significant progress is made on these issues in Durban as they are essential elements of a functioning mechanism.
Progress on these two aspects would strengthen the multilateral process and bring-to-effect Articles of the Convention that oblige developed countries to support climate change responses in developing countries. It is important to remember the principle of multilateralism when we implement our international obligations, as the only credible and fair mechanism for global governance.
It is important to identify the principles that should underline the sources of finance, as they have to be predictable, reliable and adequate. We do believe that innovative sources of finance have a role, but public finance should be the primary source of climate funding. It is further important that we continue engaging on the understanding of adaptation finance, as it cannot be seen as only disaster relief, but must include activities that build resilience in our natural resource, social and economic systems.
On the Green Climate Fund, the report has been concluded and the Co-Chairs have summed up the report as - not perfect, but a delicate balance reflecting different interests. Our interpretation of the Co-Chairs statement is the multilateral nature of the report as the Mexican President said in Cancun - in multilateralism we reach a successful outcome when everybody is unhappy, rather than when we are all happy.
It is therefore South Africa’s view that we should focus on the adoption of the Transitional Committee Report on the Fund, without opening it up for further negotiation. We should put our efforts on ensuring an early capitalisation of the fund so that it can begin operating to address the needs of developing countries, especially Africa and small island developing states.
We strongly believe that second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol must be agreed to as a first step towards a truly multilateral rule based and binding global system that helps us to cut the carbon emissions and also stabilise the green-house gas emissions.
The Kyoto Protocol is not only important as a mitigation instrument, but is also an important source of finance for the Adaptation Fund. Adaptation being a priority for Africa, failure to secure a legal second commitment of the Kyoto Protocol before we conclude COP17 is of particular concern.
We have no doubt that as public representatives and custodians of the interests of our people, we can as governments and parliaments of the continent, and indeed the global community as a whole, work together to ensure we can indeed, save tomorrow today.
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Home Affairs
5 Dec 2011
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